haydn_winking.gifBrandywine Heights High School Music Listening & Literature
Classical Era: Franz Joseph Haydn Webquest

Objectives: In this activity, you will acquire familiarity with the life of Haydn, in terms of:

1. Characteristics of Haydn’s life and personality
2. Haydn’s career within the changing job description of the Classical composer
3. Characteristics of Haydn’s instrumental music
4. Haydn’s contribution to Classical era music



Franz Joseph Haydn’s long career spanned from the decades when the Classical style was first emerging until the dawn of the Romantic era. The contribution he made to his art – especially to the symphony and the string quartet – was second to none. Haydn’s career reflects the changing social situation in the later eighteenth century, when the old system of court patronage coexisted with an early form of the modern concert system.
Haydn was also a prankster who loved humor in music. Many of his pieces contain comic moments, and at least three--the Suprise Symphony, the Farewell Symphony, and the Joke Quartet were written for humorous purposes.

One of the most attractive personalities in the gallery of the great composers, Haydn was shrewd but generous-minded, humorous, and always honorable.

Haydn’s music combines good-humored simplicity of melody with a very sophisticated delight in the manipulations of musical form and technique. In his reasonableness, his wit, and his conviction that his art should serve humanity (a conviction he both expressed and acted upon), Haydn is the true musical representative of the Enlightenment.


You will visit web sites to collect and summarize information about Haydn’s life, career, and his music. By the end of this quest, you will have a sense of his unique personality and his contribution to music of the Classical era. The end goal is for you to have acquired a flavor of Haydn, the man, which will allow you to better appreciate his personality and music.


Visit these interesting websites about Franz Joseph Haydn. Use the information that you find on these sites to compile answers to the questions below.

Brief articles about Haydn’s life and career:


http://www.bbc.co.uk/composers/haydn/facts.shtml Interesting trivia, curious stories
http://www.8notes.com/biographies/haydn.aspLots of detailed information about his life and career

Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart


1. Haydn’s personal life is a lesson in tenacity and the results of a positive outlook and hard work.
Write a paragraph or two in support of this statement. Include the following items in your discussion. 15 points

  • The date and location of Haydn’s birth
  • His family, upbringing, early life experiences that contributed to his tenacity

2. Composers of the Classical era worked during a time of violent political and social upheaval. For the Classical
musician/composer, this was an age of changing job description.

Discuss Haydn’s job in terms of…
  • His job description Classical era (patronage – self-employment – somewhere in between) 10 points
  • The Esterhazy family - who are they? Where are they located? Haydn's job description, Length of stay in this job

3. Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven were all acquainted. Briefly discuss Haydn’s relationship with both 6 points
Mozart and Beethoven

4. Haydn’s music combines good-humored simplicity of melody with a very sophisticated delight in
the manipulations of musical form and technique. No composer has ever enjoyed a (musical) joke more. 6 points

Discuss Haydn’s sense of humor in his Symphony 94 in G Major(Surprise), second movement

5. Every composer, just like all of us, has special quirks and interesting life stories. 3 points
Select and discuss at least one additional curious or interesting fact about Haydn.